Sorry I haven't written the following details sooner - one of those weeks
History of 1902 King's Ale (Bass Barley Wine)
"A lead sealed and original English pint of 1902 Bass King's Ale. This famous brew is a batch of Bass No. 1 which was started by Edward VII during a visit to the brewery in 1902. This is the very first Barley Wine to ever be mass produced. This beer started a tradition in British brewing in which all brewers attempted to follow. This beer is extremely hard to find and checks in at around 10.5% abv."
More info here
For me, I found this a wonderful psychological experience - one I'll never forget. I think the oldest wine I've had might have been 40 years old so, a 115 year old beer
! No matter what the end result, opening a 115 year old bottle is a once in a lifetime experience. I expected, and it would not have worried me, that one or more of the following would occur: the process of removing the lead seal would crack the old bottle; the cork would not be able to be pulled, it would have to be mined; we might have to run from the room once the cork was mined due to some horrific smell... I had low expectations of the beer being drinkable.
So, what happened?
Firstly, I would have been a nervous wreck even handling such an antique but sinkas was cool as, working on a rough-hewn table (I would have had rubber or foam down) to open the lead seal. It looked like he had done it a hundred times. Not sure what he used to get the cork out as there was quite a crowd and I missed that bit though sinkas might have some pics or vid. The cork came out black and whole
No one had to run from the room.
At this point, for me, it was a bit like a little kid at Christmas, hoping for a bicycle, expecting a book but receiving a motorbike! The bottle hadn't cracked, the cork came out whole and no lethal gases were expelled! This already sacred experience had now risen further. We then smelled the cork...
Let's come back to that and look at colour and carbonation first - black but not murky, no carbonation.
The aroma: An experience in itself. Let's say a lager has a low aroma potency, a whisky has an extreme aroma potency and a great IPA has moderate aroma potency. This had moderate aroma potency, not assaulting on the nostril but also easy to identify aromas. What were the aromas? Raw tobacco (like you smell in a pouch of tobacco). I remember even thinking of a brand of tobacco - sinkas might remember. Also aromas of molasses and cognac.
The flavour: Like a liqueur with muscat overtones. I'm not skilled at barley wines/liquers or muscats but no off-flavours. This is not only drinkable, it's worth examination, slow appreciation and reflection. I'd like wine and fortified wine experts to taste this. I think they would be very impressed.
The beer was not thin nor was it syrupy so maybe moderate mouth-feel?
I'll ask sinkas to reply here to add to or correct my impressions (maybe even more pics!). Mind you, no one can correct/change that I'll never forget having this experience.
Thanks sinkas and happy birthday
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